Get Schooled | 6 Websites for Online Learning

Computer, coffee, phone, book

Whether you’re browsing Idealist Careers, connecting with your mentor over coffee, or chatting with colleagues around the water cooler, there’s one bit of career advice that you’ll hear from just about everyone: Don’t stop learning!

In fact, this invaluable job-search tip can be applied to nearly every other aspect of your life, too.

Want a raise or a promotion? Trying to establish a healthier work-life-balance? Need to work on your communication skills to better understand your spouse or your children? Traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language? Been meaning to brush up on all those books you only sort of read in high school? A little self-guided learning can be an important first step on your way finding a resolution to any of the above.

If your next thought is something along the lines of, “But where do I begin? I don’t exactly have the time—or the funds—to get another degree, and the sheer number of articles and books available on the topic I’m interested in, is kind of overwhelming!” then you’re in luck.

Here are six of the best places you can go for online learning, most of which offer least some free resources (some are entirely free!).

Khan Academy

Their mission is simple: “To provide a free, world‑class education for anyone, anywhere.” Whether you’re interested in test prep, trigonometry, computer science, cosmology, or just about anything else that falls under the subjects of math, science, economics, computing, or the arts, you can learn it for free with Khan Academy.

Pro Tip: Anecdotally, the computer programming offerings on Khan Academy and pretty impressive and come complete with brief, but thorough lessons and a hi-tech space to practice your newfound HTML and CSS skills.


It’s not free, but we think the fee is worth it. With courses taught by the world’s top instructors, and culminating with anything from a course certificate to a master’s degree, Coursera offers recorded video lectures, auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments, and community discussion forums.


Looking for more of a one-off lesson? Perhaps you’re in search of the latest Google Chrome hacks, some expert assistance on making the perfect homemade pizza, or maybe all you’ve ever wanted to do in life is learn to juggle. No judgment. Learn it (for free) on YouTube.


Skillshare members enjoy unlimited access to 14,000+ classes and get to learn by doing. All classes include a project for students to complete, and from there, teachers provide feedback on the projects themselves, as well as in the “Community” board.

Pro Tip: Take advantage of Skillshare’s promo exclusively for Idealist Careers readers and redeem your two months of free online learning.

iTunes U

iTunes U is an absolute goldmine as far as online and e-learning are concerned. Boasting an incredible library of mostly free content, if you haven’t already heard of iTunes U, get excited. Hop on over to your iTunes stores to access iTunes U’s rich variety of audio and video course content from top universities like Harvard, MIT, and Yale.


The free “Lessons Worth Sharing” found on TED-Ed can be easily sorted by content type, student level, duration, and subtitles and includes a variety of lesson topics that is just as diverse and deep-diving as its lecture-series namesake, the talks that need no introduction; that’s right, TED Talks.

Educate us …

Have you taken an online class that you’d recommend? Maybe you have a different go-to site for online learning? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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As a seasoned communications professional with 15 years of nonprofit experience and 6 years of experience creating engaging content and copy, I love the idea that a thoughtfully crafted piece of content can spark social change. Here at Idealist Careers, I'm eager to offer job seekers, game changers, and do-gooders actionable tips, career resources, and "social-impact lifestyle" advice.
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    • Cate
    • April 5, 2017

    Can’t believe you don’t have edX listed here! Unlike Coursera, it is the only non-profit platform in the world. It is founded by Harvard and MIT, with courses offered by both those schools plus many many others that are the top in the world and in their fields.

      • Alexis Perrotta
      • April 5, 2017

      Thanks, Cate! Have you taken any of their courses? We’d love to hear what you recommend!

    • Renee
    • April 5, 2017

    I’ve taken a few edX courses and have really learned a lot. They a very broad selection covering a wide range of areas and also offer an app.

      • Alexis Perrotta
      • April 5, 2017

      Thanks, Renee! Any personal favorites?

    • Cheryl Fleisher
    • April 5, 2017

    For those interested in non-profit management and fundraising, Philanthropy U is great! Top rate instructors and virtual group interactivity add to the value. See

      • Alexis Perrotta
      • April 5, 2017

      Thanks, Cheryl! What a great resource. Do you feel like this is for folks who already have experience in that field, or is it accessible to job seekers who may be interested in transitioning to a fundraising or development position?

      • Eiliyah
      • April 5, 2017

      I will check out philanthropyu as well, thanks Cheryl!

    • Eiliyah
    • April 5, 2017

    Hi Alexis! Thanks for the lovely article! There are a few other sites that provide good online learning courses. A popular one is Udemy which has courses for all types of subject areas and all levels of learners at affordable prices (most only $15)! Another good site for non-profits is which has free courses covering from fundraising to project management.

      • Alexis Perrotta
      • April 6, 2017

      Thank YOU, Eiliyah! We actually have a resume course posted on Udemy, but I have yet to explore other offerings, so this is great to know. Have you taken any of the courses on the other site you mentioned,

  1. Another great learning platform for non profit and those passionate about social entrepreneurship is Acumen Plus. I have taken courses on PhilantrophyU and Acumen Plus but PhilantrophyU is my personal favourite. I can’t really choose between Coursera and edX, they course materials are awesome.

    • Patch Schwadron
    • April 6, 2017

    Also,, which can be accessed free through many public libraries.

    • Alexis Perrotta
    • April 6, 2017

    Wow … thanks to everyone who shared so many other fantastic learning resources. If any of you have taken courses that you’ve either included on your resume, or have directly benefitted your job search, I’d love to hear about (and I’m sure the rest of our Idealist Careers community would love to hear about it, too)!

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  8. Great list, but i haven’t found my favourite site ( ) where i can find studies from blockchain programming to Soil health of agriculture. 🙂

    EDX is also recommended!

    What really bothers me is that Coursera forces me to give my credit card numbers when i try to attend a course, even though it’s said to be free…

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